Developing Alternative Distribution Networks to Groceries and Food Cooperatives for Sustainably Produced Missouri Grown Food

2000 Annual Report for LNC00-178

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2000: $97,931.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Federal Funds: $7,804.00
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Russell Kremer
Missouri Farmers Union

Developing Alternative Distribution Networks to Groceries and Food Cooperatives for Sustainably Produced Missouri Grown Food


Direct markets for sustainably and locally produced food are flourishing across the North Central Region and are providing an important outlet for farmers trying to diversify sources of farm income in the midst of another farm crisis. However, many farmers lack 1) the necessary time commitment to individually service farmers markets, CSA’s, restaurants and grocers, and 2) the capital for storage and transportation costs involved in servicing these direct markets.

Likewise, smaller supermarkets in rural and urban communities are facing similar problems to the small farmers and processors. In late 1998, the five largest supermarkets accounted for 39% of the U.S. food retailing market. Therefore it is critical to form a distribution network that cuts transaction costs for farmers, allowing them to retain more of the product’s value, while at the same time providing a service to independent grocery outlets.

1) To research the potential for marketing sustainably produced, Missouri grown food through small, flexible distribution networks to supply independently-owned supermarkets and food cooperatives in central and east central Missouri.
2) To develop a cooperative network to distribute food products from individual farmers and agripreneurs, farmer-owned cooperatives and small processing operation to supermarkets in east and east central Missouri. More specifically, to develop one distribution network to provide meats, fresh produce, and selected processed foods from already existing farms to grocers and restaurateurs in the St. Loius vicinity. This network will serve as a model for other distribution networks in the state.
3) To conduct workshops and state seminars under the auspices of the Missouri Farmers Union utilizing project results in developing small distribution networks across the state.

The primary approach to meet Objectives 1 and 2 is to use quantitative and qualitative techniques to research market potential; to identify products, farmers, processors, and buyers; and to develop a distribution network. Interviews, site visits, and documentation of regulations will provide the case study analysis that will be the basis for forming the distribution network. Missouri Farmers Union will incorporate dissemination of the results of the project into its general education and outreach program to meet objective 3.

Finding, particularly the case studies and analysis arising from Objective 1, will be distributed through workshops and seminars to Farmers Union members, and through outreach and extension activities of the Food Circles Networking Project. Documents summarizing the finding will be available on different websites in a hard copy.


Julie Baker

Support Staff
MO 63468
Dr. Bill Heffernan

Univ. of MO
MO 65211
Dr. Mary Hendrickson

Univ. of MO
MO 65211